The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for improving motor vehicle and highway safety. It works to improve safety in many ways. It is responsible for setting safety standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. It provides grants to state and local governments to educate the public and improve driving safety. It is responsible for investigating automakers and the makers of auto parts that are suspected of defects impacting safety. Finally, it is responsible for safety research into issues such as drinking and driving, distracted driving, fatigued driving and other potential hazards. After a number of highly publicized missteps, some legislators believe the NHTSA is failing in its mission.
Senators from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida have asked President Obama to push for changes to the NHTSA when he names a new chief administrator. The NHTSA has been operating under an interim head administrator for nearly a year. President Obama is expected to name a permanent chief in the next few weeks.
The Senators raised a number of issues they believe the NHTSA needs to address to fulfill its mission. They would like better information supplied to the public by NHTSA officials and automakers concerning accidents related to safety defects. They called for the NHTSA to improve its safety databases and work harder to provide early warnings about potential defects to the public. Critics have complained about investigations lasting for years with very little notice to the public. Dangerous defects have been allowed to go unreported for large periods of time while the NHTSA investigates complaints.
Source: The Detroit News, "Senators urge Obama to overhaul NHTSA" by David Shepardson, 12 November 2014